March 24, 2015
Rauch said, “2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death—the last major Shakespearean milestone many of us will experience in our lifetimes. In celebration of our core identity as a Shakespeare theatre, we are proud to be presenting five plays by our namesake author, one from each genre (comedy, tragedy, history and romance) plus our single most overdue Shakespeare title. With TIMON OF ATHENS next season, OSF will have produced the entire 37-play canon a staggering four times, and our current Canon in a Decade project means that we hope to have completed the canon a fifth time by 2024. As I anticipate all five Shakespeare plays in 2016, I am particularly excited about THE WINTER’S TALE in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, seen through an Asian and Asian-American cultural lens.
“At the same time, our commitment to new work remains a vital part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the 21st century. With world-premiere adaptations of Charles Dickens and Gilbert and Sullivan alongside a thrilling new American Revolutions drama and the premiere of a lyrical fable from a rising Latina playwright, we will continue to contribute to the American canon of new plays that will go on to be produced by theaters nationwide. Finally, our 2016 season includes an astonishingly fresh take on the Vietnam War from the perspective of Vietnamese refugees in the U.S., and a rare large-scale revival of the much-beloved musical THE WIZ.
“The 2016 season reaffirms our identity as a language-based, classical theater even as it continues to expand the boundaries of the types of artistic adventures that we will offer our ever-curious and passionate audiences.”
In addition, OSF is honored and delighted to host the fifth annual National Asian American Theater conference and Festival from Sept. 29-Oct. 9, 2016. The conference will be presented by the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists (CAATA), and 200-300 Asian American and Pacific Islander theater makers will meet, share performance pieces and attend OSF productions. Rauch and Associate Artistic Director Christopher Acebo extend an invitation for everyone to join CAATA and OSF.
Angus Bowmer Theatre
The season will open with one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays,TWELFTH NIGHT, directed by Christopher Liam Moore (LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and others). Among the most produced plays at OSF—this will be the 17th production— TWELFTH NIGHT or WHAT YOU WILL also launched the Festival’s inaugural year in 1935. Moore will be setting this delightful tale of disguise and mistaken identities in 1930s Hollywood, the perfect location for an Illyria where all order seems turned on its head and WHAT YOU WILL is possible.
Running all season alongside TWELFTH NIGHT is a world-premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Penny Metropulos and Linda Alper. Metropulos, a 20-year veteran with OSF and former Associate Artistic Director under Libby Appel, will also direct. Alper was a member of the OSF acting company for 24 seasons and co-adapted TRACY’S TIGER and THE THREE MUSKETEERS with Metropulos. The team has created a crackling, smart, funny and wonderfully true adaptation of Dickens’ story of the orphan Pip, who journeys from country boy to gentleman, learning difficult lessons about friendship, loyalty, generosity, forgiveness and love.
Also opening at the top of the season and playing through early July will be the world premiere of THE RIVER BRIDE by Marisela Treviño Orta and directed by Laurie Woolery (THE TENTH MUSE, THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE). The play was developed within AlterTheater Ensemble’s (San Rafael, CA) inaugural playwright residency program and was the co-winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award. Inspired by a Brazilian folk tale, the play is set in a small village along the Amazon River. This lyrical story about two sisters is filled with atmosphere, mystery, love and regret.
In April, the world premiere of ROE by Lisa Loomer, directed by Bill Rauch, will open. This American Revolutions commission looks at the highly controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade case, and Loomer tells a riveting story of the compelling and fascinating individuals behind that legislative battle with humor, compassion and revelations that will surprise—even those who think they know the history. Loomer’s plays include THE WAITING ROOM, LIVING OUT, BOCÓN!, CAFÉ VIDA and DISTRACTED, which was produced at OSF in 2007.
The final show to open in the Bowmer is Shakespeare’s TIMON OF ATHENS. Amanda Dehnert, known for her groundbreaking productions at OSF (JULIUS CAESAR, ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, MY FAIR LADY, INTO THE WOODS), will direct. As Rauch noted, with this production OSF will have completed the canon four times. The play was last produced on the outdoor stage in 1997. This rarely staged tragedy might be called Shakespeare’s study of the idea that money can’t buy happiness. Timon is wealthy and generous, but his indiscriminate liberality and his unwillingness or inability to distinguish friend from flatterer becomes his undoing. From boom to bust, he falls out of favor, and alone, he withdraws from humanity.
The first show to open in the Thomas Theatre and running the entire season will be a world-premiere adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s THE YEOMEN OF THE GUARD, directed by Sean Graney, artistic director of The Hypocrites (Chicago). This humorous, pun-laden satire involving a wrongfully incarcerated man and set outside a prison takes audiences into a richer emotional world than the duo’s other comic operettas and is often cited as their attempt at Shakespearean character. Graney will adapt this piece for contemporary audiences with re-imagined orchestrations inspired by classic country and western music. Graney has directed more than 30 productions for The Hypocrites since he founded the theatre in 1997, including a number of wildly popular Gilbert and Sullivan adaptations. This YEOMAN will be a rousing musical event for the entire family.
Opening in March and running throughout the rest of the season is a new play,VIETGONE by Qui Nguyen. This fresh, youthful and humorous play looks at the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective. VIETGONE is based on the true life story of the playwright’s parents’ exodus from Vietnam in 1975 and their subsequent meeting and romance in an Arkansas refugee camp. The play will be directed by May Adrales, who has collaborated on the project since it was commissioned as part of South Coast Repertory’s CrossRoads Initiative; Adrales will direct the world premiere production at SCR in the fall of 2015.
In July OSF will open RICHARD II, directed by Bill Rauch. Last produced in 2003 on the outdoor stage, this Shakespearean masterpiece of medieval intrigue is the first play in a series of four that chronicle the rise of the house of Lancaster (HENRY IV, PARTS I, II; HENRY V). Richard II is wasteful in his spending, unwise in his choice of counselors, surrounded by ambitious men and distant from his countrymen. When Richard departs to Ireland, Henry Bolingbroke assembles an army to invade the north, and by the time Richard returns, his previous allies have defected to Bolingbroke. Richard loses his crown and is imprisoned, and in contemplating his downfall, he discovers something more important than any kingdom.
Allen Elizabethan Theatre
HAMLET, arguably Shakespeare’s most popular play, will open the outdoor theatre in June. OSF’s most recent production was staged in the Angus Bowmer Theatre in 2010. This disturbing and psychologically rich masterpiece digs into the enigma of a man’s mind. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, has been charged by the ghost of his dead father to avenge his death, and Hamlet, fixated on his uncle as murderer, strains under the weight of his task. This tragedy, a play from which an amazing number of Shakespeare’s words and phrases have entered common usage, is always a must-see. Director TBA.
It’s not all tragedy in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. The 1974 super soul musicalTHE WIZ, with book by William F. Brown, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, from the story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, opens the following night and runs through mid-October. The Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Acclaimed director Robert O’Hara (NAACP Best Director Award, Helen Hayes Award, OBIE Award) will stage this exuberant production.
The third show to open outside is Shakespeare’s THE WINTER’S TALE, directed by Desdemona Chiang. Shakespeare’s beautiful romance about a glorious harvest of reunion and forgiveness will be looked at through an Asian and Asian-American cultural lens and set in Dynastic China and the American Old West. Chiang, a stage director based in Seattle and San Francisco, was previously at OSF in 2011 as a FAIR Assistant Dramaturg on MEASURE FOR MEASURE, and in 2013 as the Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellow and assistant director of KING LEAR.
The 2016 season will begin previews on February 19 and open the weekend of February 26. The opening performances in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre will be the weekend of June 17-19. The season will run through October 30. Tickets for the 2016 season will go on sale in November 2015 for members, and general sales will begin in early December.